The difference between “requesting” an action and “demanding” it?

Have you ever thought about the difference between “requesting” something from someone and  “demanding” it?

When we make a request, with the words like “would you be willing”, you are giving the other person a choice – they can agree to carry out the action or they can say “no”. As it is a request, to guilt the other person, or shame or judge them is not an option. By requesting we have given them the choice.

Giving someone a choice means that if the person agrees to the request they will generally do so with more willingness and more enthusiasm. It is not something they have to do, or must do, it is something that they choose to do.

If they say “no” to our request they are in fact saying yes to something else. Since all behaviour has a reason and the reason is to meet a need, they are saying yes to another need they have.

There have been times that I have used a request when it was really a hidden demand. I remember, for example, asking my grandson to help clean up the kitchen after supper. When he said a reluctant “no” I found it quite difficult to accept without making a face and feeling annoyed. Of course this didn’t go well and we had an uncomfortable few moments. When I verbalized the needs, and expressed how important they were to me I found that he accepted my request. He understood that I needed the family to work together, to collaborate and contribute so our life together was peaceful and relatively easy for all of us.

If we don’t verbalize the needs the request is easier to turn down and it is often due to lack of understanding. He was not aware of the needs behind my request, he just heard the choice.

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